Judge, attorneys discuss future of UH fertility clinic lawsuits

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CLEVELAND-- More than 30 attorneys were in a Cuyahoga County courtroom Monday for a preliminary meeting about how the court will handle the dozens of lawsuits filed against University Hospitals.

Families are suing the hospital after a malfunction in the fertility center’s storage tank, where more than 2,000 eggs and embryos were kept, left many of them unviable. For some of the 600 or so couples impacted, the eggs and embryos stored there were their last chance at having biological children.

There are several class actions lawsuits and individual lawsuits currently filed against University Hospitals. Attorneys told FOX8 there are still new cases being filed.

The major question before the court is whether the cases will be handled as class action lawsuit, if they will each get their own trial or some combination of the two.

“There’s groups that want to be class action and there’s a whole process for that. Our position for that is that people who have no interest in class action, they want to get justice now. They want to move forward. They want to do discovery. They want to get to trial,” said attorney Tom Merriman.

“In one case, our clients feel that a class treatment is the best and most appropriate way to proceed and that’s how they wanted to go, and the other our clients were more interested in filing and individual action so we did that,” explained Eric Zagrans, an attorney representing two different families.

Cuyahoga County Judge Stuart Friedman told attorneys he intends to make a ruling in conjunction with other judges involved on whether the cases should be consolidated.

Friedman said there has been at least one opposition to consolidation filed.

University Hospitals released a statement regarding the matter on Monday:

“Though our policy is not to comment on pending litigation, we can confirm we have filed a motion to consolidate the cases presently before the court. This motion is a continuation of our efforts to quickly find the best resolution for our patients that will allow families to move forward with their futures. Our patients’ collective interests are paramount as is the need for factual and accurate information as we progress through this process.”

Attorneys and families are also waiting for the hospital’s internal investigation to be completed.

“The lawyers for UH tell us that they are conducting an internal investigation of exactly what happened on the weekend of March 3, 4 so we are waiting for the results of that investigation before we use that as the spring board for any additional information we might need,” Zagrans said.

But many families are eager to find resolution as soon as possible.

“The tough thing is we have a lot of people who are on the clock. They are in these programs because they want to make a family time is running out. They need to get back and get the treatments. Fortunately, they can do that, there’s ways to do that, but people need information on whether they can trust the process at UH,” Merriman said.

University Hospitals has offered counseling, fertility treatments and storage to those impacted at no cost.

Continuing coverage of this story here

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